Change How You Drive to Increase MPG
Change Driving Habits: By far the best way to increase fuel economy is to change how you drive. The US Department of Energy estimates that the average US driver could increase fuel economy anywhere between 5% and 35% by changing how they drive. Instead of stomping on the gas pedal and racing to the next light only to slam on the brakes to stop, accelerate as gently as possible without jeopardizing the safety of yourself or others.
Combine Trips: Combining trips is common sense however it does take discipline to accomplish. Stopping at the grocery store for milk and bread is the last thing most people want to do after that extra inning baseball game. Keep a grocery list on the fridge and update throughout the week and then do your shopping on your way home from work.
Use Technology for MPG Gains
Shop for Gas: Technology has made shopping for gas a breeze. Website GasBuddy.com allows users to enter a zip code and get gas prices for area gas stations. GasBuddy.com relies on members to report prices so if you are checking gas prices in remote or rural areas prices may not be current. There is also a mobile app which comes in handy on the road.
Use GPS When Possible: Modern GPS units are a great way to help get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently. GPS units can update you on traffic conditions and some units can learn traffic patterns in your area and suggest alternate routes. Another benefit of some GPS units is the hands-free calling option and the gas price updating service. With the cost for GPS now more affordable than ever it makes sense to own one.
Use Cruise Control: In a 2005 study on MPG Edmunds.com found that using cruise control for traveling on highway trips can increase MPG up to 7%. When driving long distances take breaks at least every 2 hours, keep vehicle cabin temperature cool, and have a nice cold soft drink nearby.
Turn Off the A/C?: In a 2005 study on sedan and SUV highway MPG, Consumer Reports and Edmunds.com determined turning off the A/C only increased MPG by 1 MPG and having the windows rolled down had no measurable effect on MPG. For optimal performance when using the A/C be sure to lower windows when first getting into a warm vehicle, this exchanges the warm air in the vehicle with cooler outside air. Next run the A/C on fresh air until the vehicle cools down and then select the recirculate option.
Hybrid Owners: Hybrid vehicle use the energy from braking to recharge the vehicles batteries thereby increasing the effective MPG. When braking hard on a Hybrid the conventional disc brakes are engaged and convert energy into friction and heat. To increase MPG use gentle pressure on brakes as traffic flow and safety permit.
Proper Vehicle Maintenance Results in MPG Gain
Inspect Fuel Cap:According to the US Car Care Council 17% of vehicles in the US have damaged or missing gas caps that result in 147 Million gallons of gasoline being lost due to evaporation. If you hear a hissing sound when you remove your gas cap there is a proper seal otherwise replace your gas cap.
Reduce Weight: By far the heaviest material we put in our vehicles is the gasoline when we fill up at the local gas station. Gasoline weighs roughly 6 pounds per gallon and since the average tank holds 16 gallons that works out to about 96 pounds of fuel. By not topping off your fuel tank and waiting to fill up until the fuel gauge is 1/4 or less. You will also be helping the environment out, each gallon of gas puts 20 pounds of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere.
Keep Tires Inflated: A February 2007 report by the General Accounting Office reported that 1.2 Billion gallons of gasoline in the US each year by under inflated tires. The average American driver is losing 3.3% in MPG due to improperly inflated tires according to Fueleconomy.gov.
Follow these tips and you too can significantly increase your vehicles MPG!
Readers: What things do you do to get better gas mileage?